“Guard your heart above all else, for it determines
the course of your life.” ~ Proverbs 4:23
If you’re like most people, at one time or another you’ve been the victim of gossip. Or, worse yet, you may have actually done the gossiping. Whatever the case, let me share with you some insights on gossiping that will help you not to get upset when people gossip about you or, if you’re the one doing the gossiping, to keep your mouth closed the next time you’re tempted to gossip.
According to Webster, gossip is “a rumor or report of an intimate nature.” A person who spreads such rumors or reports is called a gossip. Another name for a gossip is a busybody. Busybodies meddle in the personal affairs of others by making public what should be kept private.
Gossip is a two-headed monster, the other head of which is slander. While gossip involves telling the truth—albeit the negative truth—about someone, slander, on the other hand, is uttering false charges about someone. Both gossip and slander defame and damage another person’s reputation.
Gossiping today has become a major social pastime. It boldly and brazenly bombards us on talk shows, in newspapers, and in the workplace. Like every other sin, however, gossip brings death in its wake.
In the Bible, God’s instruction manual for man, God talks about gossip in the same breath in which He talks about murder: “But let none of you suffer as a murderer, a thief, an evildoer, or as a BUSYBODY in other people’s matters” (1 Peter 4:15, emphasis mine). The Weymouth translation calls a gossip a “spy” in the affairs of others.
Why is gossiping so dangerous? The reason is that whereas murder kills a person’s body, gossip kills his reputation.
The penalty for destroying another’s reputation is severe, as God warns us in Psalm 101:5: “Whoever secretly slanders his neighbor, him I will destroy.” God never minces words; when He says destroy, He means destroy.
Moreover, God calls the person who destroys another’s reputation a fool (” . . . whoever spreads slander is a fool”–Proverbs 10:18) and a hypocrite (“The hypocrite with his mouth destroys his neighbor”–Proverbs 11:9). The Bible also warns that gossip destroys relationships between even the best of friends: “A whisperer separates the best of friends” (Proverbs 16:28).
Behind all gossip is a spirit of hatred: “All who hate me whisper together against me” (Psalm 41:7). According to God’s Word, however, one who truly loves his neighbor will not speak evil against him: “Love does no harm to a neighbor” (Romans 13:10).
As with all temptation, the temptation to gossip lies in the momentary pleasure it promises: “The words of a talebearer are like tasty trifles, and they go down into the inmost body” (Proverbs 26:22). But while the morsels of gossip go down smoothly, once they are swallowed, they turn into poison as they reach the inmost body (the spirit).
The person hearing the gossip is poisoned in his opinion of the person who is the object of the gossip. The person gossiping is poisoned in his heart. The person who is the object of the gossip is poisoned in his reputation.
Gossiping is a form of judging one’s neighbor, and the Bible is quite clear on the consequences of judging: “Therefore you are inexcusable, O man, whoever you are who judge…” (Romans 2:1); “For with what judgment you judge, you will be judged” (Matthew 7:2). Do you want God to judge you the way you are judging others? He will, you know.
If, however, you are the victim of gossip, and if you are a follower of Jesus Christ, you have the authority through Christ to condemn the gossip against you and to render it powerless: “And every tongue which rises against you in judgment you shall condemn. This is the heritage of the servants of the Lord” (Isaiah 54:17).
If you are guilty of gossiping, remember that, like a boomerang, gossip ricochets right back to the person who gossips. Eventually, you yourself will become the object of someone else’s gossip. When the shoe is on your foot, you may not like the fit.
My dear mother used to say, “If someone gossips to you about someone else, you can be sure the gossiper will gossip to someone else about you. So, stay away from gossip!”
The Bible warns that there is a way that seems right to a man, but its end is the way of death (Proverbs 14:12). Gossip may seem all right to you, but sooner or later you will discover that it always leads to death—death of relationships, death of friendships, and death of your own soul.
Decide today to eliminate gossip from your life. You’ll be a much better person as a result.
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Dr. Diorio is a Certified Life Coach, a Certified Biblical Counselor, and a Certified Behavioral Consultant. She is also an award-winning, widely published author of fiction for children and adults. You may reach her at firstname.lastname@example.org or via one of her social media venues below: